The Moon’s current phase for today and tonight is a Waning Crescent phase. In this phase the Moon’s illumination is growing smaller each day until the New Moon. During this part of the Moon cycle it is getting closer to the Sun as viewed from Earth and the night side of the Moon is facing the Earth with only a small edge of the Moon being illuminated. This phase is best viewed an hour or 2 before the sunrise and can be quite beautiful if you’re willing to get up early. It can also be a great time to see the features of the Moon’s surface. Along the edge where the illuminated portion meets the dark side, the craters and mountains cast long shadows making them easier to observe with a telescope or binoculars.
Today’s Waning Crescent Phase
The Waning Crescent Moon on July 16 has an illumination of 19%. This is the percentage of the Moon illuminated by the Sun. The illumination is constantly changing and can vary up to 10% a day. To see how the lunar illumination changes throughout July 16 visit this Moon Illumination Chart.
On July 16 the Moon is 25.34 days old. This refers to how many days it has been since the last New Moon. It takes 29.53 days for the Moon to orbit the Earth and go through the lunar cycle of all 8 Moon phases.
The 8 Lunar Phases
There are 8 lunar phases the Moon goes through in its 29.53 days lunar cycle. The 4 major Moon phases are New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon and Last Quarter. Between these major phases, there are 4 minor ones: the Waxing Cresent, Waxing Gibbous, Waning Cresent and Waning Cresent. For more info on the Moon Cycle and on each phase check out Wikipedia Lunar Phase page.
You can use this link to go forward or backward in time for Moon phase information. If you are curious you can even find out what phase the Moon was in when you or anyone else, you know was on the date the person was born.